Ethiopia plot suspects tortured, say relatives – By Barry Malone (Reuters)

June 15th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

A group of men accused of plotting to topple Ethiopia’s government were tortured in prison during lengthy interrogations, relatives said on Monday.

At a pre-trial hearing in Addis Ababa, a judge refused a request from a lawyer for one of the 32 men for a doctor chosen by the families to visit the detainees in prison to compile a report on any injuries.

The arrest of the group in the biggest such crackdown for several years has worried rights group, who say Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government has become increasingly authoritarian and tough on any critics in the Horn of Africa nation.

Officials say the group planned bombs and assassinations.

At Monday’s hearing, the judge said the group had access to a prison doctor, which was adequate. Some members of the group discussed with the judge how, with their meagre means, they should hire lawyers. A few threw waves and smiles at relatives.

After the hearing, three family members told Reuters suspects had spoken of mistreatment in jail.

“Some of them have been tortured and are injured,” one relative, who asked not to be named, said outside court. “They have been interrogated for up to nineteen hours. One man with injuries to his penis had to be treated in hospital.”

Lawyers said five of the group were being held in solitary confinement. The 32 accused were mainly former and current army personnel, including two generals.


A Government spokesman said the allegations were “baseless”.

“They have the right to relate any indignities they allege they have suffered openly in court,” Shimeles Kemal said. “If this had been the case, they would have, but they didn’t.”

The government has identified only two of the prisoners despite calls by rights groups to give all the names.

Another 14 people, some resident in the United States and Britain, have been charged in absentia.

The government says the accused, arrested more than a month ago, belonged to a “terror network” formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader who teaches economics in the United States.

Berhanu denies the accusations.

Addis Ababa says the group had planned to kill senior government officials and blow up power and telecommunications facilities to provoke protesters who would then march on government buildings and attempt to topple the government.

Opposition parties have called the charges trumped-up.

Security forces killed about 200 protesters after elections in 2005 when the opposition disputed the government’s victory. The next national election is due in 2010.

Berhanu was elected mayor of the capital Addis Ababa in the 2005 ballot, but was arrested and accused of orchestrating the street protests. He was pardoned and released in 2007.

His “May 15th” organisation was named after the date of the 2005 poll. He has made statements in the United States saying it wants to overthrow Meles’ government.

The Ethiopian government says the plotters received money to buy weapons from Berhanu and other diaspora opposition members.

The accused will appear in court again on June 30th. (Editing by Matthew Jones)

  1. tewbel
    | #1

    Some are likely to die out of torture even before they are condemned.

    MMeles and his tugs wil pay for these crime one day soon

  2. Guna
    | #2

    This is not the first time Tigrians betrayed ethiopians they did it during the Italian Invastion, the Somalian Invastion and they are doign it again. 4 million tigrians abusing 70 millions ethiopians but one day they all will pay for it

  3. አማን ነው ምን ይሻለናል
    | #3

    መሳሪያ ያዙና ታገሉ

    | #4

    what we wait from a tererrist gang? we must support Ginbot 7 by giving information about weyane daily movement. long live ethiopia.

  5. mateos
    | #5

    They so called “plotters” might be facing the most severe punishment of Meles and his boss Bereke but the Ethiopian people have been going through some type of torture by the same mafia family for the past 18 years. I believe the days where Meles and his boss Bereket rot in the prisons they built for the innocent Ethiopians is fast approaching.

  6. andelenatu
    | #6

    the TPLF desperate atempt to silence the opposition is not going to work this time.the false acusation fabricated allegation labled at the 46 individuals is base less and the tplf mad dogs start to run around and unleash their brytality .no matter what they think this is the way out once more they are dead wrong it will help to streangth the opposition.the demise of the barbaric rule of the TPLF IS NEAR.THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY WILL PREVAIL

    | #7

    Please read a poem I admire written during the last election by an Ethiopian,There was no improvement since then,the bad situation caused by tyranny in fact has worsened since then!

    Prayers of Meles:“Abate hoy, begehanebe esat yemetnor”

    My father who live in the hell fire,
    Thank you for the gift – Somali war,
    And for the “Parliament” lambs-
    you gave me so far,
    To be sacrificed for me-
    in need of other affair.
    I use them and throw when their time comes
    They camouflage my daily duty of massacres.
    Give me my daily bread I beg from foreigners,
    ”For a country” full of hunger while being in excess
    That gives me milk and honey-
    to become rich in Indonesian Banks
    In the name of the most I hate -
    the Ethiopian masses.
    O my lord the master of hell
    Keep me away from-
    the opposition leaders in jail
    They snatched from me the peoples will
    What is the death of 200 people?
    Even the hidden,hundreds of thousands blood I spill?
    The Ethiopian wealth I stole?
    Hear me my hero of the hell
    Give my “AGAZI Army” more time to kill
    I put the youth in the “Nazi camps”
    The old, the young, pregnant ladies
    I killed their children and was pleased
    Then journalism, Radio, TV, Internet closed,
    To make the news of my own to the world,
    Thank you my master-for the Somali warlord
    But why can’t I buy the peoples will?
    When the spirit is kept in jail?
    Tell me Lord, king of kings of hell
    Deceiving the US, the UK, and all
    Is the support from UE, UN, AU, to fail?
    I lobbied many in the US as well
    From the blood money of the poor I pile
    Is that all to no avail?

    O Lord, I need courage-
    in my future place to come
    Why people scare me-
    with A “COURT in HAGUE”?
    Is that where they kept Milosevic?
    Charles Tailor’s place?
    The place of justice-
    rule of Low my nightmare?
    But the scariest things of all to me
    Facing the Ethiopian people – the enemy
    I sold “my mother land” to sworn traitors
    Fear of war at the East African borders
    Abandoned by Amharans,Tigreans,Oromos..
    Save me my master-
    from the Unity of Ethiopians!
    AMEN my hell creator of all evils!

  8. bubu
    | #8

    ዜጎቻችንን እየፈጁ ያሉ ነብሰ ገዳዮችን በሰላማዊ መንገድ እንዴት መታገል ይቻላል::

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